Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tree of Life block in progress

This pattern is from the Great American Aran Afghan (GAAA) book. I was finding fewer and fewer blocks in the Great American Afghan (GAA) which really excited me so I am making a few blocks from the GAAA to include in my afghan. When I showed this pattern to my son, I said I wanted to make it in green, brown, or lavender, and asked him which color he thought would be best. He's grown accustomed to some of my multi-color GAA blocks so he suggested making the background one color, the bobbles in a second color, and the cables in a third color. I explained that the the design did not actually lend itself to that, but I realized he might be onto something. He suggested the background in green and the bobbles in lavender. I was a little skeptical but I loved the notion he was excited to have some input. It occurred to me that this project is intended to be a family heirloom and I went on to tell my son that some day, this afghan will be his... so green background and lavender bobbles it is! I think the result is fantastic. I love how the bobbles are really noticeable. I showed my son and he said, "If the bobbles were green then they wouldn't stand out!" What a smart cookie he is... pretty dang smart for a 13-year-old. Definitely plan to consult with him on subsequent blocks.

First photo shows where I was at on this block Friday morning. Second photo shows where I am now... Saturday evening (Row 57 of 73 on the pattern chart). This is one of those blocks where I wonder how many hours I've spent on this block. It's getting easier as I go. I am exclusively following the chart on this block and it's going great. I am really catching on to the meaning of the symbols and this time around, I did not have to color code the multitude of cable stitches. Yipee... progress!

Mock Cable Dishcloth

I found this quick and easy dishcloth pattern in Creative Knitting Magazine. The pattern is called "mock cable" since it's really not a cable stitch. The dishcloth is pretty much knit 2, purl 2 rib. On every fourth row (on the right side) over the knit stitches, you knit the second knit stitch, then knit the first knit stitch, and THEN you move theses stitches from the left needle to the right needle. It makes a nice texture for a dishcloth. I made a few dishcloths this week as a bit of a brain break from the difficult Tree of Life block which is on my needles right now. Will post about that next...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS VIDEO ON THE INTERNET? I encourage you to check it out and make sure your speakers are on. Here's the link:

It's great and I love the upbeat song. My mom sent the video link to me. My mom worked at this hospital (St. Vincent's Hospital outside of Portland, Oregon) for over 25 years (I'll have to check on the exact figure). I enjoyed seeing the video as well since I worked as a Junior Volunteer at this hospital for a few summers... great experience! I whipped up this face cloth this week. I got the "ribbon" cable portion from a square in the book for the Great American Aran Afghan and then I just designed the rest of the block around it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quick Post

Busy weekend with lots of cooking and baking projects, but here is a quick post. I added a border to the Entrelac with a Twist block. Also, I finished up a Basketweave pattern which was given to our class by our GAA instructor. Still difficult to get a good photo of the blocks completed in dark colors! Twenty blocks complete; five to go!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hmmm... dessert!

When I was in junior high or high school (a really long time ago) I wrote a letter and put it in a time capsule. I guess the other members of my family also wrote letters or notes for the time capsule. The time capsule was "sealed" when we put it in the base of a waterbed and then filled the waterbed mattress with gallons and gallons of water. My parents reminded me of the letter a few years back. In my letter I wrote that when I grew up I wanted to go to school to be a chef or be a food photographer for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. Apparently these urges resurface now and again... I feel compelled to take photos of food! Ahhhh, chocolate dipped strawberries. So pretty and so yummy. I was inspired to make these because at a local cafe they were selling these for Valentine's Day and they were charging a ridiculous price for them. These are plain but sometimes I drizzle them with white chocolate. I also made some chocolate dipped banana slices with chopped toasted almonds. Shhh, don't tell anyone... they are in the freezer for me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Under the Sea is complete!

Wow, I sure am glad to be done with this block! I had to go back to December 5th to see when I last posted about this block. Nothing about this block was particularly difficult but it was a ton of work. My goal for the week has been to finish up what I've started before starting any new projects and this was one of my goals. The rest of my completed blocks also need some finishing... namely a bunch of yarn ends to weave in. That sounds kind of boring. So far I have completed 18 blocks for my Great American Afghan (there are 25 blocks in the pattern book). There are some blocks I've decided NOT to complete and one of the blocks I have completed is from the book entitled The Great North American Afghan. I have a few more from the GAA book I'd like to try. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A belated Happy Valentine's Day

My hubby surprised me with these lovely roses for Valentine's Day. He said he picked yellow since he knows how much I like yellow. The vase is one we had in the kitchen and goes with my chef and waiter kitchen theme. He also gave me a package of reduced fat Oreos (so I wouldn't feel too guilty eating them) and a bunch of asparagus. Now most folks might think those are odd gifts for Valentine's Day, but truly they are an indication of how well my husband knows me!

Three Trees block is REALLY complete!

I posted a photo of this block a long time ago but the trees were not stitched down. I gained a little confidence in my sewing skills the other day working on my Squiggles Block, so I bit the bullet and stitched down these trees. I am pleased with how the block looks and am pleased I did not screw up my nicely knit block and trees with my crumby sewing! The trees have a puffy quality which I really like!

Entrelac with a Twist is complete!

I am not so sure what to make of this block. It turned out much smaller than the others in the GAA and it's a little "wonky" in a crooked/not good way. I am considering adding a border in the green color to make the size more similar to the other blocks. This block looks rather messy on the backside from all the color changes. Also, my technique for picking up and knitting stitches (which is essential in entrelac) needs some refining. I end up with lots of unattractive ridges on the backside. Much to learn. This entrelac pattern is nice since it includes cables in the green blocks. I'll add a photo of the block in progress so you can see how it came together. An interesting note on the construction of this block. After completing the bottom border, you leave three stitches on holders on both the right and left sides. When the entrelac portion is done, you go back to the the three stitches and stitch the sides in garter stitch. At my class the other day, our GAA instructor showed me how I could pick up a fourth stitch from the side and then after turning the work, I knit two together and then knit the two remaining single stitches. This way, I was knitting the border and attaching it at the same time. The instructions specify you should stitch the three stitch garter stitch borders and then sew them on. I was dreading the sewing so I was grateful to have gotten this "no sew" tip! In this next photo, you can see how entrelac looks while in progress. It's a slow, labor intensive process, but fun to learn and very cool to see how it comes together. Whoever dreamed up entrelac was a very bright, creative person!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Border for the Diagonal block

This block has concerned me as I am working away on my GAA. This block is stretchy (like garter stitch) but it's significantly smaller than the other blocks I've completed. We had our February GAA class yesterday and we discussed adding borders to blocks which turned out too small. Tonight I added a border. What do you think? I think it looks better and I think now it will be easier to sew this block into the afghan since it now has a garter stitch border as do most of
the blocks in the afghan. I still need to block this to square it up a bit, but you get the idea. I think the border is an improvement.

Squiggles block is complete!

I guess I'll call this block "Squiggles". I posted about this block several weeks ago and finally had the courage to work on it and finish it. I am forever vexed by good knitting only to be screwed up by poor sewing! I struggled to get all the I-cords on this block sewn down nicely. All said and done... I am pleased with the look of this block.

Here is an earlier photo of this block in progress so you can see what I mean about the I-cords. This block is not from the Great American Afghan book... it is from the Great North American Afghan. I made the I-cords a bit longer than the pattern called for. Since I was struggling with the sewing, I made the coils like the snail on the Under the Sea Block. I found them easier to sew this way, I think they look more tidy, and I like the way it looks.

I am on a mission now to finish up some blocks. I had so many projects/blocks in progress, I was starting to feel very overwhelmed! My goals for the week include sewing the trees down on the Three Trees block, finishing the Under the Sea block, and adding a border to the Diagional block. In fact... I just finished the border on the Diagional block, so I'll post about that right now...

Monday, February 8, 2010


In my knitting career, I've completed seven socks! Funny, huh!? Number 7 is pictured above. It's great hand dyed yarn and the top has a lace pattern to it. I did not care for the way the heel turned out, the top lacey portion is too baggy and some of my decrease stitches in the foot and toe don't make me happy. The sock does have a killer Kitchner Stitch toe however... I am proud of that part. I am also uncertain if I have enough of this yarn to make a second idential sock. That being said, I dug out some fresh yarn and started to make a purple pair of socks.

I happen to have two pairs of dpns in this size (I think they are size 2) so I decided to make two socks at once. I am "going rogue" with these socks (ha, ha!) and am going to come up with my own design as I go and hopefully I will resolve some of this issues which have caused me to be dissatisfied with previous socks. So far the top portion is k2,p2 rib and I plan to make this rather long so I can fold the top portion over (like bobbie socks). I plan to use the heel from the sock pattern I like so much (I found this pattern for Self Striping Socks at In my brain, I am planning how I can add some cable stitches to the instep and top foot portion. I'll keep you posted about my progress! I kind of feel as if my GAA project has taken back seat to some other projects I have going on. The GAA was feeling more like a chore and it occurred to me that a hobby or crafts should never feel like a chore! Hobbies should make your heart sing a happy tune... so right socks are making me happy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

More baking

The Pillsbury Doughboy and I did some baking this afternoon (aren't these pajama pants cute? Yes, I was already in my jammies by 1:00 pm today! The pants read, "This is how I roll!"). We made our favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cooking Light Magazine. They contain some whole wheat pastry flour, some all purpose flour, vegetable oil, egg whites, corn syrup, brown and granulated sugar, baking soda, chocolate chips, and vanilla. They are awesome!. In this picture, you'll see cookies in the foreground and then an empty sheet of aluminum foil in the background. You see, my family eats these cookies faster than I can bake them. As I realized this, it suddenly occurred to me why I enjoy knitting so much. With baking, you blink an eye and you have nothing to show for it. With knitting, the finished product sticks around awhile longer. At least until you give your knitted things away. Today, the purple/blue socks found a good home!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Socks done!

Finished a pair of socks today. At knitting group, I worked on learning a proper Kitchner stitch to close the toes. First sock toe turned out so-so; second toe looked great! I just finished a third sock just now and decided to watch Susan B. Anderson's video on how to complete the Kitchner stitch (you can easily find it on Her video is great and she has some simple words she sort of says aloud and it makes it easier to sort of memorize the process.

I am pretty happy with the close up shot here. That's the heel in case you couldn't tell.

And a close up of my Kitchner stitch. See how it makes a flat toe? (That should be comfy! Nobody wants lumpy, bumpy socks!) In this photo, the toe is actually facing toward the left (toward my fingers in the photo... if that makes sense).